Philippine boxing legend Manny Pacquiao has stunned the sport by coming out of a two-year hiatus to challenge unbeaten pound-for-pound candidate and WBC and IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence, who is 11 years his junior.
The 42-year-old veteran issued the surprise announcement to his millions of followers on his social media accounts late on Friday night, uploading a poster showing himself against feared figher Spence, as well as the logos of broadcasters Fox and promoters Premier Boxing Champions.
After being ‘liked’ by the joint account of the two companies on Instagram, it seems the announcement of a meeting on Las Vegas on August 21 is legitimate.
The ‘PacMan’ was immediately showered with praise by fans, fellow fighters and pundits across the boxing world for taking on such a challenge.
— Tom Gray (@Tom_Gray_Boxing) May 21, 2021
“Pacquiao really is a throwback, fight anyone, anytime, shock the world, size does not matter great,” beamed DAZN commentator and former light middleweight champion Sergio Mora, responding with a “wow”.
“Manny Pacquiao just does not give a f*ck,” wrote Ring Magazine’s Tom Grey on Twitter. “Ultra throwback. What a warrior.”
“Pacquiao fighting Spence at the age of 42 is just another reason why I’ll ride with him until the wheels fall off,” a punter stated, outlining the reason for the adulation being lavished on the former eight-division ruler.
Pacquiao really is a throwback, fight anyone, anytime, shock the world, size does not matter, GREAT! 🇵🇭🥊#PacquiaoSpence Wow!
— Sergio Mora (@TheLatinSnake_) May 21, 2021
Pacquiao fighting Spence at the age of 42 is just another reason why I’ll ride with him till the wheels fall off.
— Aris Pina (@PunchZoneAris) May 22, 2021
As generational rival Floyd Mayweather entertains ridiculous circus theatrics from the Paul brothers by meeting Logan for an eight-round exhibition in Miami June 6, Pacquiao refuses to take the easy money, preferring to enter the ring with the unbeaten Spence.
Some 11 years his junior with devastating knockout power, the Jamaican-American – born on Long Island but raised near Dallas, Texas – is widely considered the best pound-for-pound fighter, second only to Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.
A fight with fellow unbeaten brawler Terence Crawford is what the masses had called for, but with promoters Al Haymon and Bob Arum failing to see eye-to-eye and the fighters bickering over the purse split, this bout, which could be a bigger box office smash, appears to have been finalized instead.
Many won’t agree with this, but there’s no doubt that commercially, Manny Pacquiao-Errol Spence is far bigger than Spence-Terence Crawford. Pacquiao is a living legend and a household name. Monster PPV. #PacquiaoSpence
— Mike Coppinger (@MikeCoppinger) May 21, 2021
Also negotiating with Crawford’s camp at one point, Pacquiao previously confirmed a fight with UFC superstar Conor McGregor last September.
“For the sake of all the Filipino Covid-19 victims, Senator Manny Pacquiao will be fighting UFC superstar Conor McGregor next year,” a statement from his political office read at the time.
“The huge portion of his earnings will proceed to those who are affected nationwide by the pandemic.”
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After McGregor was knocked out by Dustin Poirier at UFC 257 in January, Pacquiao’s manager Sean Gibbons poured cold water on the crossover clash by suggesting he had looked past the ‘Diamond’.
“Maybe he had the Senator on his mind. I think the demand for the fight is not there, presently,” Gibbons stated.
Representing both men, Haymon was able to capitalize on Arum’s failings to make a fight between Pacquiao and Spence in-house.
The last time we saw @MannyPacquiao in the ring was in 2019 when he beat an undefeated Keith Thurman by split-decision 🔥
— FOX Sports: PBC (@PBConFOX) May 21, 2021
Yet some fear it could be the legend’s last and push him permanently into politics.
Not only is there an age difference to negotiate and the quality of the younger opponent, but Pacquiao has been inactive since 2019 and will have been away from the sport for more than two years by the time he once more walks under the bright lights to the square circle – without a tune-up and straight into it against one of the best pugilists on the planet.
Manny admirers will be quick to remind the doubters that, in his last outing, Pacquiao dispatched a more jovial upstart tipped for greatness.
We dont deserve Manny Pacquiao… #Boxing
— caleb truax (@GoldenCalebT) May 21, 2021
Then making his way up the pound-for-pound rankings too, Keith Thurman thought he might ship Pacquiao off into retirement but was outclassed over 12 rounds as the then 40-year-old became the oldest welterweight champion and the first boxer to become a four-time ruler at the weight class by capturing the WBA (Super) strap.
Known as ‘One Time’, Thurman also boasted a knockout threat as great as Spence’s, but the loss sent him back off into the mountains of Tibet, where his wife is from, to reassess life.
He hasn’t competed since in a professional capacity, while Pacquiao is again ready to face one of the toughest challenges out there.
Pacquiao said he’s hopeful the bout will take place at 70,000- seat Allegiant Stadium, home of the Raiders.
“They’re trying to get me into the big (stadium) there, the new one,” he said. pic.twitter.com/Upy3pahYlU
— Lex (@BadBeatsBoxing) May 22, 2021
In an era where the best fights often aren’t made due to egos and greed and where fans are currently left short-changed, as ex-supermiddlewight champion Caleb Traux said: “We don’t deserve Manny Pacquiao.”
Even if others are concerned for him, Pacquiao remains as fearless as ever in the face of adversity, claiming he is “faster and stronger” than Spence hours after the announcement.
“I love to challenge the top guy,” he told The Athletic, though he did concede the Spence scrap “might” be his last.
He's going to get killed Sergio…
— Corvious (@cont3mpris) May 21, 2021
No he’s not. It’ll probably go the full 12. You can’t forget who manny pacquiao is. Yeah Spence is bigger and probably stronger, but so was Thurman, and all his opponents before that. Pacquiao will go out there and go to war if he has to. No doubt.
— Eddie (@Eddie_fg4) May 22, 2021
“It’s been two years since I’ve fought,” Pacquiao also highlighted.
“[But] I’m not worried about [ring rust] because a long layoff is good for me after being in boxing for 25 years before that. It’s good to rest. It’s given my body a chance to recover.”
Referring to the 70,000-holding home of the Las Vegas Raiders, Pacquiao added: “They’re trying to get me into the big [stadium] there, the new one”.
The promoters will be confident of a huge gate Alvarez and Billy Joe Saunders recently broke the record for the biggest indoor crowd at a US boxing event, when 73,000 enthusiasts watched them at the Cowboys Stadium that Spence usually stars in.
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